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Friday, October 25, 2013

Britain's Top 10 Stately Homes

Do you think you can guess what British Heritage has named as the top 10 Stately Homes in Great Britain?

British Heritage listed them in its booklet of "90 Places You Must See in Britain." How many of them have you been to? How many are on your bucket list? I'm fortunate to have been to six of the ten—including the top two stately homes.
                                                     Blenheim Palace

Let's see if you agree with the list.

1. Blenheim Palace. Home of the Churchill family and Dukes of Marlborough, Blenheim is located in Oxfordshire and was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1705 and 1722. The sweeping parkland surrounding it was designed by Capability Brown. It's the only non-royal, non-ecclesiastical palace in Britain.

2. Chatsworth House. Home of the Cavendish family and the Dukes of Devonshire is situated on hundreds of acres in the lovely Peaks District. The house boasts more than 300 rooms, and it's easy to spend an entire day wandering the beautiful grounds.
                                                    Chatsworth House
3. Broadlands. Home of the Mountbattens and located in Hampshire. During my past several trips to England, Broadlands has been closed to the public, principally owing to restoration. It was high on my list because it had been home of the Georgian Lords Palmerston, the third Viscount later serving as a Victorian prime minister. (He died without issue, and the home passed to his widow's son from her first marriage to Lord Cowper. Many believe that son had been sired by Palmerston.) This sylvan estate is where Queen Elizabeth spent her honeymoon.

4. Tatton Park. Located on 2,000 acres in Cheshire, Tatton Park and Tatton Hall is owned by the National Trust and the Cheshire East Council and host more than 100 events annually.

5. St. Michael's Mount. This may be my favorite site in all of England. Located in Cornwall, the small island can be reached by foot during low tide but is accessible only by boat at high tide. The cone-shaped tidal island dates to prehistoric times, and the St. Aubyn family has owned it since 1659. Views from its windows are truly breathtaking.
                                                    St. Michael's Mount
6. Burghley House. The largest Elizabethan mansion has been home to the Cecil family (the Marquess of Exeter) and is now owned by their family trust. The massive residence is one of England's designated Treasure Houses and also features another Capability Brown landscape. Near Peterborough. Lots of movies have been filmed here, and I highly recommend it.

7. Petworth House. Located in Sussex and featuring grounds designed by Capability Brown, Petworth is most noted for having one of the finest art collections in all of England. It was one of the first stately homes I insisted on visiting because of its association with Georgian playboy, Lord Egremont, who was said to have sired 63 illegitimate children.

8. Plas Newydd. Alas, this is one I've not visited, owing to its location in Wales. (I'm particularly interested in stately homes that can be accessed with the aid of my BritRail passes since I don't drive in the UK.) This has been the family seat of the Marquess of Angelsey and has beautiful views over the Menai Straits to Snowdonia.

9. Castle Howard. Yorkshire home of the Howard family and the Earls of Carlisle. Ahhhh. . . Castle Howard! It's worth watching BBC's most popular miniseries (before Downton Abbey), Brideshead Revisited, just to glimpse what this magnificent baroque mansion might have been like before it became the tourist destination it is today. Some magical scenes in that drama filmed at Castle Howard are as indelibly impressed upon my mind as the faces of my children. Castle Howard really should be higher than number nine.
                                                     Castle Howard
10. Goodwood House. Located in West Sussex, Goodwood has been home to the Dukes of Richmond for 300 years. I shouldn't judge this one since I've not been here, but the fact it has a speedway, racecourse, airport, hotel, and golf course just does not entice. (Though I will admit there is much to admire in the distinctive stately home.) – Cheryl Bolen, whose latest Regent Mysteries, a novella titled The Theft Before Christmas, is now available wherever eBooks are sold.


Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

These are all great, Cheryl!! We visited several while we lived in England. The one that sticks out was a wonderfully preserved Elizabethan house, unfortunately I can't remember the name. Tweeted and shared on FB.

kipha said...

These are going on my tour list when I get the chance to visit England!

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